I get asked all the time by friends, family and people on the internet, “Why did I hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone?”
Last year, I hiked 981 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail heading southbound, by myself. I started from the Eagle Creek Trailhead at the Washington/Oregon border with a group of students from my online backpacking program for women, The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System and hiked with these ladies for 45 miles until we reached Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood.
From there, I continued my hike along the PCT solo for the next 936 miles until I reached Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, California. It was here where I decided to end my hike for the year due to pending snowstorms.
That ended up being a VERY good call. If you want to learn more about all of the details of why I decided to end my PCT hike here for the season, you can check out this video.
So Why Did I Hike the Pacific Crest Trail Alone in 2023?
Before I share with you why I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone last year, I need to talk about my first thru hike along the PCT, back in 2018.
My (2018) Why
In October of 2015, I had completed the biggest day hike I had ever done in my life – hiking across the Grand Canyon on the Rim-to-Rim trail, starting from the North Rim, hiking down into the canyon, across the canyon floor and then up to the South Rim for 25 long, grueling miles in one day.
Once I reached the top of the South Rim on my own two feet, I knew that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. Hiking the Grand Canyon was a proof of that. So, it was in this very moment that I decided that I wanted to thru hike 2,652 miles of the PCT, from Mexico to Canada.
At the beginning of 2017, I got tired wondering when I would thru hike the PCT. I was also getting tired of hearing myself tell friends and family about how I wanted to do this hike one day. So, I decided to put that “one day” on the calendar by setting a start date, applying for my permit and starting to plan my PCT thru hike.
For over a year as I planned my PCT thru hike, I kept thinking about how hiking this trail would probably change my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine.
I hoped that throughout my hike, my confidence and sense of accomplishment would grow. And I was also excited about having the opportunity to become a stronger human by setting out to achieve this big dream of mine.
A fear I had to face early on in planning my thru hike was the realization that I would have to hike the PCT alone. Most of my friends and family thought I was nuts to want to hike 2,652 miles out in the backcountry for 4 to 5 months by myself. The ones who didn’t think I was crazy had other life obligations that they couldn’t get out of. This meant if I want to achieve my goal of thru hiking the PCT, I’d have to do it all on my own. Challenge accepted!
When the time came down for me to start my thru hike though, I had gone on a few overnight backpacking trips, but had yet to spend the night outside by myself. My biggest fear when I started my first PCT hike was sleeping outside by myself.
As fate would have it, I ended up meeting a trail family on my first day of hiking the PCT. I proceeded to hike with this motley crew of hiker trash for a couple months every single day until we reached Lone Pine, California. From here, everyone in my trail family left the trail and went home for different reasons.
I decided that even though my entire trail family was going home, I would stay and continue my hike, which meant going back up to the trail in one of the most remote parts of the PCT, the Sierra section in California and finally having to face my big fear of sleeping outside by myself.
Those 7 days from Lone Pine to VVR and then eventually Mono Hot Springs were the longest, scariest and most incredible days of my life. Each day, I was faced with a whole new set of challenges I had to navigate through alone.
I’ll be honest. At first, I would cry. Why did hiking this trail have to be so much harder on my own?
Then I would get myself together, pause and think about what my game plan would be for how I was going to get through my daily challenge. Everything from climbing up and over steep passes, traversing across steep snow fields, navigating intense water crossings on my own to sleeping all by myself in my tent out in the middle of the wilderness, far away from cell or WiFi service.
This was also way before I started carrying a satellite messenger like my Garmin inReach Mini 2.
Over that week of being out on trail completely solo for the first time in my life, I went from being absolutely terrified of sleeping alone by myself out on trail to purposely looking for tentsites that had epic views without any other hikers around.
By having to face this big fear of mine head on, I discovered a level of self-confidence I never knew existed. The trail had reminded me, yet again, that I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to. If I could think it, I could do it.
My first PCT thru hike in 2018 was what propelled me to want to start my own backpacking business, which as of February will mark two years of me launching my solo backpacking program for women, The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System…and this program is still going strong.
Why Did I Hike the Pacific Crest Trail Again in 2023? Why Did I Decide To Hike the Pacific Crest Trail Alone?
There were a couple of reasons.
First, 2023 was the five-year anniversary of my first PCT thru hike. Even back in 2018 as I was finishing my first thru hike, I knew I wanted to come back and hike the trail again so what better way to celebrate my five-year trail anniversary than with a southbound thru hike on the same trail?
And second, as a backpacking coach for women, I help women build up their confidence with their backpacking skills, so they feel comfortable planning their own solo adventures out in the backcountry. Part of my “why” for wanting to hike the PCT again and to do it solo was for the students in my program, The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System.
I wanted to show them what was possible when you face your fears, get out of your own way, set a big goal for yourself and take the action to turn that big goal from a dream into a reality.
Even though my hike along the PCT did not go as planned (Honestly, most backpacking trips, especially big section hikes like this one, never go as according to plan), I still got exactly what I needed out of my hike and learned quite a few valuable lessons along the way including:
- Knowing that I am more than capable of being 100% self-reliant out in the backcountry for multiple days and I thrive while I’m out there. Yes, I love solo backpacking and this hike reminded me why I love it so much.
- Feeling comfortable with spending so much time by myself out in the backcountry. On this hike, I ended up not meeting a trail family and I was perfectly okay with that.
- Feeling confident with hiking my own hike and making decisions about my hike based on my own comfort and skill level and the hike I wanted to hike instead of making those decisions based off of what other hikers were doing or suggesting that I do out there.
- Not getting caught up with someone else’s idea of success. Just because you’re not able to hike all of the miles you set out to hike during your trip does not mean you’ve failed. To me, the destination and number of miles I hiked didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was that I hiked my hike on my own terms, spent most of my time out there by myself and felt comfortable spending all of that time alone out on trail. So I consider my PCT hike last year a complete success.
- The importance of remaining flexible with my plans along my hike and being able to pivot whenever I needed to. There were so many times along my hike last year where I had to change my plans or come up with a whole new plan. I was able to navigate through all of the changes because I didn’t have an agenda and wasn’t tied to a certain trip itinerary or outcome. My only plan was to be flexible and go with the flow.
- The most important lesson I learned during my PCT last year was confirming that I’m on the right life path, which is to help inspire more women to build up their confidence and plan their own solo backpacking adventures out in the backcountry.
I not only want to share my love for backpacking because we all love talking about the things we’re passionate about, but also to help more women realize that they can accomplish whatever backpacking goals they set for themselves and give them the tools and resources to help make their backpacking goals a reality.
Solo backpacking has been the ultimate confidence booster for me and has completely changed my life.
If I would’ve told the 2018 version of myself that I would turn solo backpacking into my full-time work and bring together an incredible community of other likeminded women hikers and backpackers who are just as excited about solo backpacking as I am, I would’ve told her she was crazy.
Ever since my first PCT thru hike back in 2018, I’ve always told myself that I wish I could bottle up all of the incredible feelings I get while on my solo adventures (feeling of confidence, empowerment, strength and happiness) and share them with other women so they can have experiences like these of their own that will change their lives in a positive way.
Creating The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System is the bottle and is how I’m able to share all of these feelings with other women.
What is The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System?
The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System is an online backpacking program I created for women who want to be more comfortable and confident with planning and going on their own backcountry adventures.
This program is what I wish I had when I first started hiking and backpacking. My ultimate goal with creating The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System is to help inspire more women to want to get out on trail and feel confident with planning their own solo adventures.
Not only is there an online curriculum that will walk you through, step-by-step, everything you need to know in order to plan, prepare and build up your confidence to comfortably go out for your own solo backpacking trips, but this program also includes:
- My personalized guidance and coaching through live, weekly group coaching calls
- Access to an exclusive community of other likeminded women hikers and backpackers from all over the country
- Lifetime access to all of the coaching support and materials
- Plus, the opportunity to join me out on trail throughout the year for day hikes and overnight backpacking trips
Ladies, if you’re interested in learning more about how this program can help you achieve your backpacking goals this year, CLICK HERE to schedule a free one-on-one Zoom call with me.
During our call, we’ll talk about your backpacking goals and figure out if The Confident Solo Female Backpacker System is a good fit for you. And if it is, you’ll get the chance to enroll into the program during our call.
Since creating and launching this program over TWO YEARS AGO, I’ve been able to help several women, just like you, plan, prepare for and go on their own solo adventures out in the backcountry, whether it’s a solo day hike or overnight backpacking trip.
You could be next!
Stop dreaming and start planning. Let me help you turn your backpacking dreams into a reality this year.
CLICK HERE to learn how this program can help change your life.
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